Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fazilka :Sowing on straw: NGO shows how

Hindustan Times, 1 November 2010, Page-3, Chandigarh Edition
Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar 


A Fazilka-based nongovernment organisation (NGO) is training 3,000 progressive farmers drawn from 73 villages of Ferozepur and Muktsar districts over management of paddy straw and not to burn in order to avoid environmental pollution.

NGO Jawala Bhai Nathu Ram Charitable Trust, supported by Zamindara Farmsolutions, is making farmers aware of the demerits of burning of paddy straw. The farmers, who have joined the programme, are gradually realising that by not burning the paddy straw in their fields, they would save on huge amount of water because the fields, after days of burning, are essentially required to be watered for hours to make the soil ready for wheat, Vikram Aditya Ahuja of Zamindara Farmsolutions said.

They were arranging field visits for farmers where wheat was sown over paddy straw last year. A team of agronomists, soil scientists and agricultural engineers are informing the farmers about the merits of sowing wheat over the paddy residue, he said.

Ahuja said the participants are also being taken to the farms developed by the scientists in the various parts of the state, to make them more aware about the issue.

Their prime goal is to lower down the production cost and save natural resources, including water and soil, he pointed out. About 25 quintal of residue was there per acre while Punjab had 7 million acres of area under the paddy cultivation. The total crop residue is about 175 million quintals, out of which more than 90% is burnt, increasing the pollution manifold.

Initially, a pilot project was initiated in the four blocks of Fazilka, Jalalabad, Guruharsahai and Mamdot in Ferozepur. As it received a tremendous response, the project was also started in other blocks of the adjoining district of Muktsar, said Ahuja.

The solution would not only save farm costs, but would also help in water and environment conservation, besides saving friendly insects and biodiversity. The NGO is making available machines on rent to small farmers so that they do not burn the straw. Ahuja said if supported by NABARD, they could cover the entire state.
Soil fertility could be retained and water saved, said Ferozepur DC Kamal Kishore Yadav.

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